Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Cooperative Alligator Gar ReintroductionProgram Underway at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Midwest Region, May 25, 2007
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On May 25,  the media and members of the public gathered on the banks of Monopoly Marsh in the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge to witness the reintroduction of alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) into their native habitat. 

Once known to frequent the lowland swamps and adjoining tributaries of southeast Missouri, the species has not been documented on the Refuge since the 1970's.  Habitat loss and excessive hunting are contributing factors for the loss of the population. 

Now, thanks to a recent cooperative effort between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Neosho National Fish Hatchery in Missouri, Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma, Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Mississippi, and Mingo NWR, the future for the alligator gar looks much more promising. 

Today, 19 alligator once again cruise the slow-moving backwater swamps and rivers of the Mingo Wilderness Area.  All of the fish, ranging in size from 12 to 30 inches, are tagged with external flag tags and internal P.I.T. tags for future identification.  Thirty alligator gar also have radio transmitters for monitoring. 

In the next few years, biologist from the Service and Missouri Department of Conservation, with the assistance of its agency partners, will continue to re-establish the native population of alligator gar in the Mingo Basin. 

Refuge Manager Kathleen Burchett expects this year's fry to reach maturity within eleven years.  "As successful spawns occur, a viable alligator gar population on the Refuge will once again be re-established. 

For visitors to the Mingo Wilderness Area, this means an opportunity to see the second largest freshwater fish in the central and southern U.S. return to its native habitat."  Within a few years, visitors may see alligator gar in the 100 to 300 pound class at full maturity and once again cruising the pristine backwaters of the Mingo River and Monopoly Marsh. 

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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